Intro to Cosplay Part 1: Lilo and Stitch

I have always loved dressing up for Halloween, and often found myself wanting to be more serious about creating good Halloween costumes. However, especially as I got older, Halloween became less about how good my costume was, but more about how hot or sexy I’d end up looking. Part of me has always wanted to find excuses to make better costumes and find opportunities to wear them.

I’ve recently infiltrated a group of cosplayers (and just generally awesome people) and my excuses have been found! Some may say that going to conventions and cosplaying is “nerdy,” but you know what, cosplaying well takes so much discipline, hard work, and creativity that it complements engineering and design very, very well. Anyway, at this year’s Dragon Con, I mostly focused on my robots, but also worked on a couple cosplays that I hoped to be proud of.

Lilo and Stitch

I’ve had an attachment to this movie ever since it came out, possibly due to my deep-seeded sister issues :P. I literally cannot get through watching this movie without several fits of tears. Furthermore, people have always told me that I reminded them of Lilo; larguely due to my smallness, skin tone, almost-Hawaiian look, and Hawaiian obsession.

Cosplaying Lilo would be easy. I already almost looked the part and had a perfectly-sized Stitch (that was gifted to me this past Christmas) to carry around. All I would need is a red dress with the white leaf patterns. I wanted the dress and cosplay to really look good on me, so I opted for a more form-fitting dress, rather than a looser (and technically more accurate) dress. I also ended up picking a sleeveless dress over the short-sleeved (and again more accurate) dress, because it just fit and looked better on me. What can I say? I wanted to still look my best as Lilo.

The only challenge to this project was putting the leaf pattern onto the dress. I had used fabric paints before, but since the leaf was such a large shape and was continually repeated on the dress, I decided to try laser-cutting white iron-on appliques instead.

Laser-cut iron-on decals
Laser-cut iron-on decals

This was my first time using iron-ons, and I have now learned that they do NOT work well on fabric that needs to stretch (like this dress). I was working on robots up until the day before I flew out to Dragon Con, so I wasn’t able to spend much time looking for an alternative. Instead, I went with what I knew: fabric paint. I lightly traced the laser-cut leaves as templates and painted each leaf on with a paintbrush by hand. This was definitely not the most efficient way, but I was really limited in time and equipment at this point. While the paint doesn’t stretch particularly well and shows some visible cracks when extremely stretched, overall I think the result turned out alright, or at least well enough for one convention. I definitely want to look into some other options for the future and re-make this costume. It’s a cute one :).

To put the costume together, I just put on the dress, wore black flip flops, straightened my hair, a touch of makeup, and wore a flower in my hair (which I actually got in Hawaii while I was on vacation). As a true Lilo and Stitch fan, I happened to have a Stitch hoodie (with ears and everything) that I wear around occasionally. Just before heading out to the con for the day, I made Jamison put on my Stitch hoodie to take some fun (and adorable) pictures.

Here’s my favorite picture from my “mini-photoshoot” with Jamison. I wish there were more leafy/organic-looking locations in downtown Atlanta..


This costume was perfectly weather-appropriate and super comfortable. I thought it looked pretty good, and the character/source content is so close to my heart. It’s also a perfect costume to wear when pushing through crowds at conventions. I definitely want to work on re-making the dress and wear it again in the future :).

5 thoughts on “Intro to Cosplay Part 1: Lilo and Stitch

  1. I’ve looked for the leaf stencil on line and yours is the best by far. Where did you find it? I want to make a dress for my daughter’s costume this year. And lastly – have you figured out a better way to make make the dress since this post?


    1. Thanks! I actually drew the stencil myself. The file is here! I have some theories currently but haven’t tried anything out yet. Iron-on decals work really well for fabric that doesn’t need to stretch. For stretchy fabric, I think using several coats of air-brushed fabric paint would work well. That way you don’t have too thick of a layer, so the paint shouldn’t crack as much.


      1. I guess each year, someone looks for the same pattern as that is how I came across your site. The Dropbox link does not seem to work anymore, do you still have the pattern? I’d love to use it for my daughter’s dress…our infant son is going as Stitch!


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